Book review: 'An American Marriage' by Tayari Jones

Tayari Jones, author of “Silver Sparrow,” strikes multiple marks with her novel about a young, upwardly mobile, African-American couple whose lives are devastated when he is falsely accused, then incarcerated for rape. On the surface, Celestial and Roy’s interrupted American dream, the love triangle that ensues, and their complex family dynamics are fodder for an engaging, highly readable novel. Jones narrates from multiple points of view and includes a lengthy epistolary sections, which moves the reader right along. But simmering just below these requisite-for-a-bestseller-traits are some serious, timely issues involving race, justice and marital commitment. These themes elevate the novel, forcefully but gracefully instructing the reader, particularly the white one, in the unavoidable truths of being black in America. Among them, that no matter how far you’ve come — how much education you’ve had, or how enthusiastically you have embraced bourgeoisie — the color of your skin is inescapable.

— Reviewed by Becky Dayton, of The Vermont Book Shop


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